Mar 28

Toss the Gloss: Beauty Tips, Tricks & Truths for Women 50+

toss the glossAndrea Robinson is legendary in the fashion and beauty business.  In a career spanning over 40 years, she’s revolutionized the way women look and the way they feel about beauty.  From her early days as beauty editor of Vogue, and as fashion editor of Mademoiselle and creative director of Seventeen magazine – to more recently running the Ralph Lauren beauty brand and building the Tom Ford beauty business from scratch, Andrea has earned a reputation for always being the first.

And so it is with this book. The title got my attention, being a woman of a mature age, and being thoroughly confused by all the brand hype – how do you tell the difference from one manufacturer to another?  Andrea’s forthright analysis cut through the muck with absolute clarity and in a few sentences told me what I can buy that will work and not break the bank as cosmetics are not inexpensive. And what works for a girl of 20 or 30 will not work for a woman of 50-60 or older.

One reviewer said, “I absolutely loved this book! I am a budget-conscious beauty lover with a lot of allergies and a lot of other priorities other than spending a ton of money on the beauty industry’s ever-changing trends. Yes, I am under 40 but the tips, tricks, and explanations offered in the book are for the conscious spender who wants to look classic, timeless and do so with smart spending habits. The author is an industry insider who keeps things witty, fresh, and frank throughout the books pages.”

The book got 4 out of 5 stars from 160 reviews. A fun read that will have you redoing your cosmetic bag.

Available on Amazon in hard cover and Kindle editions

Mar 28

How To Determine Your Ideal Heel Height

high heelsCrossdressers love their high heels so what if there were a magic number you could measure that would tell you exactly what high heel height would be your most comfortable to wear? What if science could finally tell you why your coworker could wear her 4 inch Manolos all day at work like nothing, while you can barely muster a kitten heel? According to an article I rediscovered buried in my browser bookmarks, there is!

So maybe not that magical, but I have been meaning to try this test (written by a podiatrist) to measure your ideal heel height for some time now, and given a change in my recent shoe purchases, this seemed like a good time to do it. You see, spurred by a mix of moving to Mexico (more walking! less driving!) and that boring, nagging thing that can no longer be ignored after a certain age called “practicality”, my beloved 4 inch high heels are slowly getting replaced by easier-for-me to walk in 2 to 2.5 inchers. This got me thinking back to that magical measurement I had been meaning to try, and curious as to what it would say is my “ideal” heel height. Could it be in any way accurate? Would it correspond with the recent heel height trends taking place in my wardrobe?

Let’s try it, shall we?

Theory:

Depending on many factors including the shape of your foot, flexibility, arch height, etc., your foot has a natural incline while in a state of rest, that if measured, can indicate which shoe heel height would feel most natural and comfortable.

I’ll note here that I made one modification to the original instructions. Instead of using the tip of the big toe as a measuring point, I chose to use the point where the ball of foot bends. This just made an enormous amount of more sense to me because 1) isn’t that where your foot naturally starts to incline in high heels?, and 2) I would have an “ideal” heel height of around 5 inches using the original instructions, which is just crazy-talk.

Measurements will be taken with the following points of the foot in mind:

The heel (where the high heel of a shoe would sit)
The bend at the ball-of-foot (this is my modified step)

points to measure on your foot

Measure

Sit in a chair and extend your leg straight out in front you.
Let your ankle and foot relax so it rests at it’s natural incline.
Tip: I did a few rounds of exercising my ankle and foot (rolling my ankle, pointing my toes, etc.) and then letting it relax to get a feel for what my true “relaxed” state felt and looked like.

leg out and relaxed

With a measuring tape or ruler, measure the distance from the heel of your foot, straight out to the point where your ball of foot bends.

The measurement on the tape measure where your ball of foot bends indicates your foot’s natural incline and “ideal heel height”.

ideal heel height

Tip: this is easier with the help of a friend, roommate, or significant other, but it can be done by yourself with a little creativity.

How I measured without help:

Set up a camera to take photos against a wall with a camera remote, but a self-timer, selfie stick, or the buttons on an iPhone head phone cord could also be used to take photos from a distance.

Taped a measuring tape onto the wall at the same height as my extended leg while sitting in a chair.
Made sure the measuring tape, and my extended leg/foot were all within the picture frame by taking a few test shots.

Sat in a chair, extended my leg, and took a few photos with a camera remote. I stretched my foot and rolled my ankle in between to make sure I got a few “relaxed” shots.
Uploaded my photos and drew lines in Photoshop.

My Ideal Heel Height

ideal heel height

After a few rounds of taking measurements, my “ideal heel height” came in somewhere below 2.5 inches, which just so happens to correspond with my recent propensity toward heels in the 2 to 2.5 inch range. In my case, this formula seems right on the money!

Now you!

I’m super curious to hear if this test works for you! Let me know in the comments if take the test and if your measured “ideal” heel height really is one that is most comfortable for you.

Original post at Alterations Needed. A excellent resource on the subject of alterations

Mar 18

Zinnia Jones on Transgender Issues

zinnia jonesAbout five years ago I found Zinnia Jones on You Tube  video blogging on atheist issues (she’s a confirmed atheist) and found her fascinating as I’d never seen a young person with such logical and well thought out positions on the issues she discussed. In a nutshell, she’s an intellectual talking in a down-home easily understandable manner with very much a sharp tongue. I always thought her personal appearance was rather off-putting and almost feminine.

I lost track of her until this past week when one of her videos was posted on the TBN Facebook page. Well, surprise, she has transitioned and now video blogs on transgender issues. This woman has a unique talent to get to the core of an issue and turn her opponents arguments into silliness and mush.

Her recent series on gender analysis is worth every moment of your time to listen to and then I have listed some of her other recent works which you should find of interest

Gender Analysis 01. Low T: A Tale of Two Hormones
Gender Analysis 02. The Gender Axis of Evil
Gender Analysis 03. Transition as Gender Freedom
Gender Analysis 04. Some Advice on “Passing”
Gender Analysis 05. Trans Passing Tips for Cis People
Gender Analysis Live! Spawn More Trans: Transgender Awareness and Activation + Q&A

Other Videos

Being an “abomination” is pretty great
Can’t Even Go to the Park
Trans disclosure? We can get into that
Myths and Facts About Trans People
Gender-confused?
Transgender women in women’s restrooms: A purely imagined harm

 

 

 

Mar 15

A History of Trans Lives in Film

From ‘Glen or Glenda’ to ‘The Danish Girl’
By Parker Molloy

Over the course of the past several years, transgender individuals have inched their way into mainstream consciousness. Trans people typically face high levels of unemployment, increased risk of contracting HIV, discrimination—in housing, employment, restrooms, and access to medical care—and a host of other challenges unique to their struggle for equality. As GLAAD notes, less than one in 10 Americans actually know a trans individual, making the media the public’s primary source of education on trans issues.

dallas buters club

Still image from Dallas Buyers Club, Voltage Pictures

For more than half a century, from Glen or Glenda to Dallas Buyers Club, the entertainment industry has tried to get a handle on how to accurately and respectfully portray trans people. Unfortunately, it sometimes appears that the creators wind up using trans characters less as people and more as props, to be used for comedic effect or to shock the audience.

2014 saw the debut of trans-centric series like Transparent, The T Word, and True Trans with Laura Jane Grace. These shows—created with trans people in either starring or consulting roles—are a sharp departure from trans media of years past and instead paint trans individuals as real, non-sensationalized people. While these series are examples of success in documentary, comedic, and dramatic portrayals of trans people, they are far from the norm.

transparent-jeffrey-tambor

Alexandra Billings and Jeffery Tambour in Transparent

Over the past half-century, the entertainment industry has portrayed transgender individuals hundreds of times.

In 1953, writer and director Ed Wood released Glen or Glenda, a film centered around society’s disdain for those who deviate from traditional gender norms. At the time of the film’s release, it was illegal to be caught publicly cross-dressing in a number of states. Glen or Glenda became a cult sensation and was later re-popularized in Tim Burton’s 1994 film Ed Wood in which Johnny Depp plays the titular character coming to terms with his own compulsion to wear women’s clothing. Wood did not identify himself as transsexual; the term “transgender” wouldn’t make its way into the cultural lexicon for another couple of decades.

Glen or Glenda

In 1970, director Michael Sarne released Myra Breckinridge, a film based on Gore Vidal’s 1968 novel of the same name. Sarne’s adaptation features Raquel Welch as Myra Breckinridge, a teacher at Buck Loner Academy who takes advantage of her male students and sexually assaults them. The film ends with Breckinridge reverting back to her former male self. Like Glen or Glenda, critics panned the film. In 1974, Vidal published Myron, a sequel centered on Breckenridge’s struggle to establish true identity.

1975 saw the release of Dog Day Afternoon, a film inspired by the story of real life bank robber John Wojtowicz and his transgender wife Elizabeth Eden. The film starred Al Pacino as bank robber Sonny Wortzik; Chris Sarandon played Leon Shermer, a character based on Eden. The film won an Academy Award for best original screenplay and received nominations for Best Picture, Best Director (Sidney Lumet, the famed director of such films as 12 Angry Men, Network, and The Verdict), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Pacino), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Chris Sarandon), and Best Film Editing. Dog Day Afternoon marked one of the first times a mainstream film featuring a prominent transgender character received critical acclaim. Sarandon’s nomination for playing a trans individual signaled the start of a trend that would eventually lead to Oscar wins for straight actors Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry) and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club).

The 1980s featured films like Brian De Palma’s critically praised Dressed to Kill, in which Michael Caine plays Dr. Robert Elliott and his murderous, female alter ego Bobbi; 1982’s The World According to Garp, which earned John Lithgow an Oscar nomination for his role as Roberta Muldoon, a transgender woman; and 1983’s Sleepaway Camp, in which a transgender woman goes on a homicidal rampage.

John Lithgow in the World According to Garp

John Lithgow in the World According to Garp

For better or worse, the 1990s featured some of the most iconic depictions of transgender and gender non-conforming characters Hollywood has ever produced. From Silence of the Lambs’s Buffalo Bill to The Crying Game’s Dil and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’s Lt. Einhorn, it slowly became more commonplace to use gender variance as a plot device in mainstream Hollywood, even if it wasn’t always done in a particularly accurate or flattering light.

Still image from Boys Don’t Cry, Fox Searchlight Pictures
In 1999, Hilary Swank portrayed transgender man Brandon Teena in the award-winning film Boys Don’t Cry. The film depicts the tragic, true story of Teena and his death at the hands of two former friends. The film brought mainstream attention to the devastating reality of violence that transgender individuals. Swank took home an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and co-star Chloë Sevigny was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role at that year’s Academy Awards. Sevigny would later go on to play a transgender woman in the 2012 British TV series Hit & Miss.

In 2001, John Cameron Mitchell directed and starred in Hedwig & the Angry Inch, an adaptation of his 1998 stage musical of the same name. Hedwig tells the story of an East German gay man named Hansel Schmidt who falls in love with American soldier Luther Robinson. Schmidt learns that if he were to marry Robinson, he would be able to travel home to America with his new husband. Unfortunately, same-sex marriage was not a reality in East Germany or the United States at the time, so Schmidt decided to subject himself to sexual reassignment surgery in order to be able to marry Robinson. Despite the sacrifices made by Schmidt—now going by the name Hedwig Robinson—the marriage falls apart, leaving Hedwig to reconcile with her new reality, all the while performing in a glam rock band. The film explores these gender-related themes, focusing on what it means to be a man or a woman, and finding oneself.
In 2003, Showtime produced Soldier’s Girl, a story based on the lives of transsexual performer Calpernia Addams and her boyfriend, U.S. Army Private First Class Barry Winchell. In 1999, Winchell was murdered by his fellow soldiers after they learned of his relationship with Addams. This tragedy ignited criticisms of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, instituted just five years earlier. Congress would repeal the policy in 2011, granting gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals the right to serve openly in the military. As of this writing, transgender individuals are still prohibited from serving in the military.

In 2005’s Transamerica, Felicity Huffman plays Bree, a trans woman who learns just a week before undergoing sexual reassignment surgery that she fathered a son years earlier. The film follows Bree’s journey across the country with her newly found teenage son, and focuses on the complexity of human relationships and what it means to be a family.

TransAmerica

Felicity Huffman in Transamerica, The Weinstein Company

 

The portrayal of transgender individuals has frequently been defamatory, inaccurate, and based on outdated stereotypes. In a review of more than 100 episodes featuring a transgender character over a 10 year span, LGBT media watchdog GLAAD found that in more than half of surveyed TV episodes, trans characters were portrayed in a negative or defamatory light, and only 12 percent were deemed “groundbreaking, fair, and accurate.” The organization went on to highlight specific instances of negative trans representation on TV, which included shows like CSI, The Cleveland Show, andNip/Tuck.
The past few years have seen a rise in the number of positive portrayals of trans characters. Even more importantly, there has been an increase in the number of trans actors and actresses cast in mainstream shows.

From 2007 to 2008, transgender actress Candis Cayne had a recurring role on ABC’s Dirty Sexy Money, in which she portrayed a woman named Carmelita, the mistress of a high-profile politician. Cayne’s performance illustrated some of the pain and shame trans women and their straight male partners often face, as well as the elevated risk of violence these women face. From 2013 to 2014, Cayne appeared in three episodes of CBS’ Elementary, a modern take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.

In 2013, Netflix premiered Orange Is the New Black, a comedy/drama about life inside a women’s prison. The show features transgender woman Laverne Cox in the role of Sophia Burset, one of the inmates at the prison. Prior to appearing on OITNB, Cox had appeared on a couple of reality TV shows, as well as episodes of Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and HBO’s Bored to Death. For the most part, these roles embodied many of the problematic elements outlined in GLAAD’s study. Her role on OITNB, however, broke from many of those stereotypes, and while not perfect, has done much to bring trans awareness to the mainstream. Last year, Cox became the first out trans individual to be nominated for an Emmy in an acting category.

In June of 2014, The Matrix creators Lana and Andy Wachowski unveiled the cast list for their upcoming Netflix sci-fi drama series Sense 8. Among those cast is Jamie Clayton, a transgender actress who had previously appeared on HBO’s Hung and TRANSform Me, a makeover reality TV show featuring Clayton, Cox, and Nina Poon; all transgender women. Lana Wachowski, herself, is a transgender woman, having come out publicly in 2012.

Years from now, it’s entirely possible that Cox, Cayne, and Clayton will be heralded as pioneers of the golden age of trans media representation in scripted television, a format in evolution. As these women and other trans people find themselves part of the entertainment industry, they will be better suited to mold coverage, and reduce inaccuracies and stereotypes.

In theory, documentaries are the one format where individuals can most directly tell their own stories. Unfortunately, in both long- and short-form documentaries, trans lives have been portrayed in similarly sensationalistic ways as they are in scripted endeavors. Many of these tropes—trans women shown putting on makeup, a laser focus on surgical procedures, and other common themes of trans documentaries—have become so prevalent that they’ve prompted viewers to create their own “Trans Documentary Drinking Game.”

Nonetheless, there are documentaries that have been done right, such as 2007’s Red Without Blue, which focuses on a pair of identical twins, one of whom eventually comes out as transgender. The film manages to avoid more stereotypical tropes and keep the focus on some of the struggles many trans people face in navigating familial relationships after coming out.

red without blue

Other films, such as the 2011 Chaz Bono documentary Becoming Chaz or 1990’s Paris Is Burning, have received critical acclaim. In the case of Paris is Burning, success came mostly in the form of its cult following. Paris is Burning stands apart from many of the other trans documentaries, by focusing not only on trans individuals, but on the larger, LGBT culture found in New York City’s mid-to-late 1980s ball scene.
Last year, Laverne Cox and Laura Jane Grace each released their own trans documentary series, titled The T Word and True Trans with Laura Jane Grace, respectively. One only hopes these seres will pave the way for more relatable, human representations of trans people in both documentaries and broader pop culture

Last April, it was announced that actor and recent Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (My Week with Marilyn, Les Misérables, The Theory of Everything) would be playing the role of Lili Elbe in the upcoming film adaptation of The Danish Girl. Elbe was a transgender woman who, in the early 1930s, underwent one of the first documented sexual reassignment surgeries. While Redmayne’s work has been consistently well-received, his casting in The Danish Girl raised concerns. Will he be able to accurately portray the film’s subject.

Redmayne do Lili Elbe in the Danish Girl

Redmayne do Lili Elbe in the Danish Girl

In an interview with E!, Redmayne is quoted as saying, “Even though it is period and under completely different circumstances than today, I’m meeting many women from the trans community and hearing their experiences. I have put on dresses and wigs and makeup. I’m beginning to embark on that and trying to find out who she is.”

Few question the value of speaking to trans women about undertaking the role, but Redmayne’s comment set off red flags. Does he think gender identity is nothing more than “dresses and wigs and makeup?”
This statement harkened back to Leto’s Dallas Buyers Club acceptance speech at the Golden Globe Awards, where he said, “I’d like to use this opportunity to clear up a few things. I did not ever use any prosthetics in this film. That tiny little Brazilian bubble butt was all mine. It was a very transformative role, and I had to do a lot of things to prepare. One of the things I did was wax my entire body including my eyebrows. I’m just fortunate that it wasn’t a period piece so I didn’t have to do full Brazilian.”

This idea, that appearance and adherence to gender norms are intrinsically linked to one’s gender identity, is one of the very stereotypes that advocates for trans rights frequently look to dispel. While having trans characters and trans themes featured in Hollywood is seen as a generally positive development for trans people, casting actors who don’t seem to have a real grasp on the characters they portray can be a cringeworthy experience to watch.

Will Redmayne do Lili Elbe justice? It’s certainly possible. Would it have been nice to see a trans actress in that role, or for the film’s script to have been written by a trans woman? Absolutely. But progress, here as everywhere, is incremental.

As we enter 2015, the question of whether modern day portrayals of trans individuals will be remembered as accurate or offensive remains an open question. As portrayals of trans individuals become more accurate, so does trans perception in the public eye. Progress is invariably linked to portrayal, and upcoming years will prove pivotal to the state of trans rights in the immediate future.

Mar 07

Transgender Expert Offers Tips For Parents

Reprinted from the Courier Post Online

transgender child

1. Take a deep breath

Right now you may be feeling confused, angry and skeptical. You may be in disbelief that your child could be transgender.But you should know this: If your child has come to you and disclosed their thoughts about feeling different inside from their outside appearance, you should feel great. After all, this means that as a parent, you’ve done your job.

First and foremost, your child came to you and was able to talk to you. Please don’t forget that!
As difficult as it may seem to keep your feelings in check, it is very important to hear what your child is saying right now. They are concerned only with their own feelings and may not recognize your fears and concerns. They cannot understand how difficult it is for you to view your daughter as your son, or vice versa. It is important to try not to respond negatively because your child may never talk about this with you again.

2. Is my child really transgender?

While nothing is cast in stone, there are two strong indicators that your child is, indeed, transgender. The first one is the discomfort they feel with certain aspects of their bodies, often their genitals. The second is their desire to be perceived by others as the gender they feel they are.

Transgender teacher who fought school boards dies

By the time a child has finally told their parents that they are transgender, they likely feel impatient and want to physically transition as soon as possible. They believe that they have been suffering for years, and are likely not taking into account that their parents are having a hard time accepting that their need to be the other sex.

3. Why tell me now?

Younger children, being as creative and imaginative as they are, feel that their gender will somehow work itself out. But as your child gets older, the discordance with who they are inside and who they appear to be on the outside often becomes more disturbing. Puberty is often a sore reminder that the feelings won’t resolve themselves. An array of emotions can accompany this process including depression, hopelessness, anger, disappointment, and fear, among others.

A child — as for anyone — will find it hard to explain their feelings. They may be worrying that they will lose friends and be cast out by their parents. They may dislike seeing themselves in the mirror because they are disappointed that their outer appearance does not match their inner self. They may feel out of place in the bathroom and try to avoid outdoor activities like going to the beach. They may even try temporarily to please others, but the desire to be their true self will return.

3. Your initial fears.

At this point, you are likely feeling cautious and are concerned about the safety of your child. As a parent, there are many things that can go through your mind. One may be a fear of the harassment your child could face, or even that the harassment they already face could worsen. But remember: If a child has support from home, this can help increase their confidence and put them at ease. This, in turn, may help others at school to be more accepting.

You may be fearing the physical harm others can enact. But consider the reality that youth who are not allowed to transition run a risk of depression, self-hatred, and perhaps even substance abuse; these are all indicators of potential self-harm.

You may be fearing that your child is mentally ill. It is possible that, in rare cases, that child has a simultaneously occurring mental illness in addition to identifying as transgender. But remember: being transgender is not, in and of itself, a mental disorder. And if a child believes that they are transgender, they are. A gender identity therapist can help your child clarify whether this is true or not.

4. But my child is too young!

Gender identity is an inherent knowledge one feels inside. It isn’t like wanting a bicycle one day and then changing one’s mind. For most children, being transgender is a constant, disruptive reminder that their body and mind are not in sync. Let this knowledge put your mind at ease about your child possibly going back-and-forth on their convictions because they are too young, or because they are being rebellious or seeking attention.

Finally, you may fear that your child will someday regret transitioning. However, my experience has shown that teens who feel strongly that they are transgender are most likely going to continue feeling this way into adulthood. The vast majority of post-transition people never regret the decision they made. (Side note: You can expect that if your child is under the age of 16, reversible hormonal interventions —puberty-blockers — will be considered. After that age, cross-gender hormones will be the most likely option).

School grants transgender student access to boys restroom

By allowing your child to transition at an early age, they will be able to begin living their life as they feel they should. They can be more focused on their life goals instead of constantly thinking about their body. With your help, they can build a solid foundation of confidence and self-worth.

5. Is my child actually gay?

You might prefer believing that your child is a non-transgender gay man or lesbian woman because in today’s society sexual minorities are accepted more easily than gender minorities. But just as one does not choose to be gay or lesbian, one doesn’t choose to be transgender either. Further, sexual attraction and gender identity are different aspects of the self; transgender people may go on to identify as straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual in addition to being transgender.

In the beginning, some children may identify as lesbian or gay before they come to realize that they are transgender. This is partly because our society tells us that gender nonconformity (e.g. dressing masculinely or femininely, or being attracted to the “opposite” gender) is always a part of sexual orientation. If your child “comes out” to you twice — first as gay or lesbian, then as transgender — know that the confusion doesn’t lie with them, but with the labels they’ve inherited from society.

6. How will the rest of the family react?

Much of the discomfort you may be feeling emerges from society’s ideas concerning transgender or transsexual people. You may have been taught that these identities are forms of sickness, or they are perverted or immoral. However, as the parent of a transgender child, you need to free yourself from negative beliefs and start to educate yourself. At the end of the day, your child being who they truly are is what matters most. And when they begin to feel happier, you will begin to be happy for them as well.
Certainly, it would be great for every parent to be immediately accepting and willing to educate themselves on how to move forward with the best interests and happiness of their child in mind. However, this is not the case in many families. There is often one willing parent and one parent who is obstinate and just cannot face the facts. Keep the lines of communication open with the rest of your family, including siblings and a spouse (if applicable), but continue to do what you think is best for your child.

7. Initial reactions will not last forever

While it’s possible that your child informing you of their transgender identity can put a strain on the family — other siblings may or may not be open to change; maybe a father or mother says they want nothing to do with their transgender child — recognize that this may not stay the same forever. This is not a situation to start blaming either spouse for their initial reactions, because no spouse is responsible for unexpected situations. There are many families in which transgender children end up homeless. Your awareness of such possibilities can help prevent them. Let them impel you to find support outside the family.

8. How will others react?

It is natural to be concerned about the reactions of others in your family and extended circles. But in the best interests of your child, you will need to get your feelings in check and educate yourself before you discuss their identity with people outside of your household. When you do eventually speak to others, it is important to initially acknowledge their discomfort and tell them you felt the same way in the beginning—but that you’ve decided to keep an open mind out of love for your child. You can ask them for their support and also state that you will entertain any questions that they have about your child’s transition. During this time, you will begin to see that not only is your child transitioning, but you are as well.

Angelina Jolie adopted three of her children (from left), Maddox, Zahara Marley and Pax Thien, who walk with sister Shiloh Nouvel. AP file photo U.S. actress Angelina Jolie, fourth from left, and her children from left, 8-year-old Maddox, Zahara Marley, 6, Pax Thien, 6, and Shiloh Nouvel, 4, arrive at Narita International Airport in Narita near Tokyo Monday, July 26, 2010 for the Japan premiere of her spy action-thriller film “Salt.”

9. Feelings of loss

Address the fact that you may go through a grieving process yourself. In some ways, this is a loss (or a symbolic “death”) to you. These feelings emerge, in part, from realizing that certain hopes and dreams for your child’s future will not be fulfilled. You wanted a little girl who would grow to become a woman, and now you’ve found that you’re going to have a son (or vice versa). It is important that you take as much time as you need to be able to accept this loss, and take any self-care measures you normally do when grieving.

Let your child know that you are experiencing feelings of a loss. This can help them begin to understand what a difficult adjustment their transition may be for you. But beyond informing them, it is not your child’s responsibility to help you deal with this loss. There are support groups for parents facing the same issues that will be able to help you deal with hard emotions and other concerns.

10. Find support

The advice you are currently reading is not meant to fulfill all your support needs. Reading online is only a beginning. The good news is that in today’s world, there are many viable options for education and help. There is a growing need for accurate and compassionate information for families with transgender children, and the world is responding, albeit slowly. The Internet offers a plethora of information that can be put to good use. However, use common sense rather than placing belief in everything you read. There are many gender therapists, transgender health conferences, PFLAG meetings,1 and doctors that offer valid information.

Above all, the most helpful step you can take is to keep an unbiased attitude toward whatever your child may be telling you. Do not be afraid to ask nonjudgmental questions. While it may be hard to hold back everything you want to say, you must remember that if your first response to your child is an objection, then you can expect stubborn behavior when engaging in any future discussions. They may not be willing to discuss this matter again, and will likely feel rejected, or possibly even unloved, by you.

11. Move forward

It is essential to realize that there is not an exact answer for every issue that may come up. So it is crucial for you to get the appropriate help from a qualified therapist who will be able guide you concerning your emotions and shed light on the journeys transgender children undertake. In so doing, you will become supportive of your own child and enable them to build self-confidence and become stronger as they forge ahead.

This short guide has been prepared to simply provide an introduction. You will encounter much more information as you move forward, particularly assistance related to your individual child and their needs.
12. Most importantly, remember this: Don’t panic.

You still have a child who is capable of living a happy and productive life, provided you are there as a parent to help support and assist them. It is by no means an easy journey, but one that can definitely be positive if approached with forethought and compassion.

Seth Jamison Rainess of Monmouth County is a speaker, life coach, PFLAG facilitator and social advocate. He also is a transgender man.. More information is at www.sethrainess.com.

TERMS AND DEFINITIONS

The following definitions are fairly simple but do sometimes sound confusing. Imagine now the confusion a child must feel when they appear one way but feel another and those around them are using words and pronouns that do not match their true gender.

Transgender: A transgender person’s internal gender identity does not match their body’s biological sex (or what some may refer to as “assigned at birth” sex). “Transgender” may be used as an individual identity for someone who wishes to transition their gender socially and/or physically, but is sometimes also used as an umbrella term that encompasses those who desire physical transition (“transsexual” people) and other gender nonconforming (GNC) people, such as genderfluid and genderqueer people or cross-dressers (see definitions below).

Transsexual: “Transsexual” refers to a more specific transgender identity; when a transsexual person’s internal gender identity does not match their body’s biological sex, they wish to undertake physical measures, with the aid of hormones and/or gender confirming surgeries (sometimes referred to as “sexual reassignment surgeries” or SRS), to correct their alignment between body and mind. This term separates transsexual people from other transgender people who do not need medical intervention to feel whole

FTM and MTF: Female-to-male (FTM) transgender people are born with female biology but know themselves to be male, and wish to be perceived as such socially (including the use of male pronouns like “he” and “his”). Male-to-female (MTF) transgender people are born with male biology but know themselves to be female, and wish to be perceived as such socially (including the use of female pronouns like “she and “hers”). He wants to have female anatomy and be called by female pronouns.

Gender Identity: Gender identity is an inner sense of being female, male, neither, or both. By the age of 3, children often have a clear sense of either being male or female. Most the time their identity conforms to their biological sex; whether this is the case or the child is transgender, society instills in them rules about one should conform to their birth sex.

Gender expression: Gender expression is the presentation of self to others as masculine, feminine, both, or neither. Some of expression’s aspects include mannerisms or movement, dressing and grooming, and possibly certain behaviors or interests. Unfortunately, children whose gender expressions do not meet with what society feels they should be are usually mistreated. Children learn quickly how to try to fit in. However, gender nonconforming (GNC) children will likely continue to act and behave in accordance with their interests despite these attempts, and despite the consequences of running counter to what is expected of them.

Sexual orientation: Sexual orientation is about romantic and sexual attraction; it is not a choice. Attraction lies on a broad spectrum. A person can be attracted to just women, or just men, or both—and these can shift over a lifetime. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with gender identity or gender expression; orientation is about how one finds others attractive, while gender identity and expression are about how one perceives and manifests the self. Everyone has both a sexual orientation and a gender identity.

Genderfluid or Genderqueer: Genderfluid or genderqueer people internally understand their gender identity as falling outside the binary construct of “male” and “female.” They may feel, and perhaps struggle to convey to others, that their gender is a mix of both, varies from day to day, is neither or beyond, or something else entirely. They may request that others refer to them with gender-neutral pronouns such as “they.”

Pansexual: Pansexual people may be sexually attracted to individuals who identify as male or female; however, they may also be attracted to those who identify as intersex, third-gender, androgynous, transsexual, or the many other sexual and gender identities © 2014 Seth Jamison Rainess

Cross-dressing: Cross-dressing people wear clothing traditionally worn by another gender. They may vary with how completely or often they cross-dress, but are usually comfortable with their assigned biologically sex and do not wish to physically change it.

Stories about transgender children

Difficult Conversations

 

Mar 01

How To Tell If Your Church Is Welcoming For Transgender People

Welcoming churchby Fr. Shannon Kearns

Religion is an important part of the life of many trans people but rejection by the church is not uncommon and it can be devastating. But there are welcoming churches and the experience can renew your faith. This article  provides some clues what to look for..

Is your church welcoming of transgender people? And if it is, does anyone know?

Lots of churches declare their “open and affirming” status on their websites. Or they will put a rainbow flag on their church sign or website homepage. But those symbols often don’t tell the whole story. Many churches that have done a lot of work on gay and lesbian issues haven’t bothered to study anything about transgender people. They have outdated language on their websites or don’t mention transgender issues at all.

Some folks will ask “Why do we need to mention it at all? Why can’t we just say we welcome all people?”

Because most churches don’t. Because I’ve sat through too many services where my life and identity is either ignored or talked about badly. If your website says nothing about transgender people I will automatically assume that you are not welcoming of transgender people.

If you are a church leader or part of a church you absolutely must understand how crucial this is if you are actually going to be welcoming to transgender people. My default stance is to assume that your church will not be welcoming because most of them are not. If your church is, you need to be upfront and clear about it.

But don’t lie. If your church needs to do work on transgender issues, you need to do that work on your own without having a transgender person be your guinea pig. Please, don’t overstate your welcome if you’re not ready to actually be welcoming

Here are specific things I look for on a church website to see if it’s a place that I would be willing to visit:

Do you mention transgender people anywhere on your site? And if so, are you using language that is currently considered appropriate? I can’t tell you how many church websites are using “transgendered” somewhere on their sites. (Here’s an article about why that’s not the word to use.)

Do you make it a point to mention that you have gender neutral or single stall bathrooms?

Does your statement of inclusion specifically mention both gender identity and gender expression?

How do you refer to God on your website? Do you use only male pronouns? Or only binary pronouns?

Do you have lots of gender specific ministries and groups? If so do you make clear that transgender people are welcome in those groups? Do you have groups for transgender or non-binary identified people? (And really, do you need gendered groups to begin with?)

Do you mention that you welcome families with gender diverse children?

Do you mention that people can dress however they are comfortable?

Tweet it: If your church is welcoming of #transgender people, how will people know?

Along with your website, your church should actually be prepared to welcome transgender people.

Do some work with your greeters to help them understand how hurtful gendered greetings might be (even if someone doesn’t “look like” they are transgender or don’t identify with the gender they are presenting as being called by the wrong pronoun or by a gendered address can be really hurtful).

Help your folks understand that policing bathrooms is not okay. They might think they are directing someone to the “right” restroom but they are actually being hurtful. Let people use the bathroom that they want to use and let them use it in peace.

Provide an opportunity for people to give you their pronoun, whether it’s by having space for that on church name tags or as part of the greeting time.

Help people understand that it’s not okay to stare. You wouldn’t think you would have to mention this, but you do.

Help people to understand that it is not, under any circumstances, okay to out someone. Even if you think it’s “obvious” that they are transgender. Even if they have told other people. Even if it’s on their personal website/blog/facebook page/twitter account. It is not your business and not your job to out people. (I can hear your excuses now and the answer is no. Not okay.)

It is okay, without saying anything more, to correct someone who uses the wrong pronoun. Simply say, “So and so uses X pronoun.” and move on with your conversation.

Personal note from Tasi: I’ve found that most of the Unitarian Universalist churches (UUC) and the Metropolitan Community churches (MCC) are welcoming of transgender people.